Rookie of the Year
Running Back – Nakia Watson
This was a tough one to predict. The Badgers were still relatively young last year so there really isn’t a glaring opening for a “rookie” to come in and get some meaningful playing time. Nakia Watson will be a bold pick on my part. I think he will have a better chance to get playing time than any other freshman or first-year players.
He was running with the twos during spring camp and has a real opportunity to earn more playing time this fall. He will need to compete with the rest of the running backs outside of Jonathan Taylor to earn the number two spot in the base package. If he can beat out Bradrick Shaw, Brady Schipper, Julius Davis, and Isaac Guerendo, he should be able to see his fair share of carries this season.
Someone needs to win the backup job. I predict that Watson will be that guy. Chryst can’t run Taylor into the ground, so there has to be another back to come in and make a difference. Watson will pick up the slack when Taylor needs a breather or if he gets injured.
At 5’11” and 212 pounds, Watson is a powerful runner who goes north and south. He doesn’t have the blazing speed that Jonathan Taylor does, but can gain yardage after first contact and can be tough to take down. Unless Mertz or another freshman earns a starting job, I think Watson will be a nice surprise and show he can be the future at running back for RBU.
Other candidates: Graham Mertz, Spencer Lytle, Julius Davis